Predicted Everton starting XI v Aston Villa
Everton beat Burnley 3-1 at Goodison Park on Monday night, but it wasn’t all plain-sailing for Rafa Benitez and his players.
The Blues had to battle from a goal down after Ben Mee struck early into the second half.
It was no less than the Clarets deserved, really, after outplaying the home side in the opening period, and Benitez will know it.
Dominic Calvert Lewin’s injury necessitated a formation change against the Clarets, but on reflection, that was perhaps the wrong way to go as the Blues played into Burnley’s hand and invited pressure on themselves.
Benitez could revert to a four-man defence for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa.
Jordan Pickford will, of course, retain his place in goal, while the lack of full-back options mean Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman are near dead-on certainties to keep their spots.
After selecting three central defenders on Monday, Benitez will have to drop one at Villa Park if he reverts to a back-four.
Despite scoring against his old side this week, Michael Keane may well be the one who comes out of the side.
The goal should not distract from his defending abilities, which have been suspect, and the agility and pace of Villa forwards like Danny Ings, Ollie Watkins and Leon Bailey mean he could get exposed on Saturday.
Yerry Mina has been colossal in the air this season and can deal with any threats posed of that nature while Ben Godfrey has the pace to deal with the aforementioned Villa trio.
Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure are easy picks in midfield, with the latter particularly impressing of late.
Townsend and Gray also have to stay in the side after the big impacts they have made this season, especially on Monday, while Richarlison will be desperate to get back on the goal trail.
Benitez ruled Calvert-Lewin out for weeks after the England international suffered toe and quad injuries [Sky Sports], so Salomon Rondon could make his first start for Everton after making his debut against Burnley.
The Venezuelan striker may be lacking in match fitness, but the Blues need a focal point at the top of the pitch, and a solid 55-60 minutes of action would be beneficial for all.
Expect Richarlison, Gray and Townsend to rotate in behind the 31-year-old summer signing.
This is how we expect Everton to line up against Villa on Saturday evening.
In other Everton news, the Blues have signed this attacker after a seven-figure deal was agreed.